How about starting on your own design adventure


I was luckily hired right after graduation and during the recession era and have been employed ever since in the same office. I am the second guy in charge at the office, right below the principal(considering that the office is only a 3 people firm and I am the one answering the phone and the other is a summer intern.)
now the range of projects we handle are mostly residential and some commercial
but mainly what keeps the office afloat are the remodels, that's what pays my boss and me (and the intern).
Unfortunately, I have not had a fully designed and developed ground up construction throughout all this time, alot of projects have stalled and I basically gave up on the IDP sh*t cause its a never ending requirement, and I keep on repeating the same process again and again until we get to CA (that's where it stalls)
by reading the archinect forum, and seeing how many people struggle about "how hard it is to get a job" on one hand and on the other "how hard it is to be pigeon-holed and cant move up the latter in IDP"
why not just start my own adventure (design office) and see where it takes me?
That would be my way of sticking it to the man
maybe I can land a few projects on my own and get me some work on the way, who knows...but the idea is to invest in myself and my designs, cause no one else will.

I dont want to be an employee for the rest of my life

Current state of things:
I have acknowledged that I am lucky enough to have a job and grateful for it, on the other hand I know Ive given up on the IDP requirements cause Ive stopped filing my report and cancelled my payments, (I consider IDP as a credit card, Im just making interest payments without actually lowering my debt). I don't plan to give them any more money which means Im not taking the ARE anytime soon, and as I do not want to be an employee all my life, Im stuck in the middle of it all.
so here it goes:
I could start my own office website, do competitions and promote my work online and to potential clients
who knows, maybe I can land a client and be designing a small shack in the Emirates, or even build something before my actual office does.(that would really trip me out).
I know its a hard path to travel but I have to start someday, and I keep thinking to myself to to give it a shot.

The Dilemma:
so far what Ive learned at the office, I can put into practice with my own version of running things instead of depending on a steady paycheck for the rest of my life, which $$$ isn't really adding that much, but as I said: "I'm happy to have a job and learn from it".
Hopefully, I could someday become self-employed,but the idea is that I will still be working while I try to get projects on the side,but I'm not sure if its morally right that while my boss is struggling to bring projects to the office, his employee is doing the same for himself.
so what would you say:

"balls out" or "stay put"?

Jul 27, 13 10:45 pm

You find out pretty quickly as a self-employed architect that you need your license to get anything done.  Even if you do live in some libertarian enclave like AZ that lets people build shit with no stamp, it's still hard enough to convince clients of your worth in this world without having to constantly say "well I'm a designer, I'm not a licensed architect."


Also, and this is unrelated to the practical statement above, on a purely "balls out" question I'd say that if you don't have the stick-to-it-iveness to get your license, you're definitely not going to make a successful go of building your own business.  Just my 2 cents from having been there.

Jul 27, 13 11:11 pm

Thanks Mantaray, for the response

then maybe Ill end up moving to Arizona...

I live in California so thats why my dilemma of the the IDP progression and my dependence on projects to go through in order to advance and complete the requirements without really throwing my money away.

As things are moving here in the office, it seems that I will not get licensed until 5 years from now, and job competition is fierce here in Ca...basically I feel I have to move out of the state or country to actually grab a go without all this barriers...which actually, I wouldn't mind starting a new life elsewhere, maybe in  Mexico where life is definitely much cheaper than in the US, but at the same time  I wouldnt be there on vacation so I dont know how Cabo San Lucas or any other town runs on a daily life.

Jul 27, 13 11:26 pm
boy in a well

I don't really think licensure or idp is a measure of anyone's "stick-to-it-iveness" or that its any measure of someone's ability to get their own thing going.

Jul 28, 13 9:02 am

IDP is a problem, talk to your boss get permission and a recommendation to work part time for a trusted contractor and get some CA experience, keep logging IDP I am surprised at how many folks don’t realize that once you get the core requirements finished you still need a ton of elective hours. So log those hours every 8 weeks. 

Also you can get IDP credits through the monographs and online quizzes. 

Don’t forget that you can tour a construction site with your mentor and get up to 40 CA hours that way.

IDP is frustrating but there is no rolling clock just log your hours often and let the boss know you seriously want to get this done, if he / she is a true professional they will help you out, but you need to ask, it shows that you are serious about your career.

Maybe you can do some smaller design build work with your boss supervising, you may not make a lot or any money but if you say restore a park pavilion or help a church make an accessible restroom and you do the work you are going to get some CA hours.

Jul 28, 13 2:30 pm
Thanks everyone and yes, i feel somewhat trapped between moving up the latter and IDP. Also its a matter of quality of life, where all i do is work and see no opportunity of growing in the near term, unless projects actually complete. Its been 4 extremely slow years already and no CA experience yet.
I know maybe i should start looking for another job, but so many people out there looking too, that its just hard and thats what is motivating me to start fresh maybe somewhere else where i can enjoy more of my life and focus on my development instead of struggling and looking for another workspace from 8 am- 8 pm
Jul 28, 13 2:52 pm
Jesus Christ IDP is just doing simple paperwork every 6 months. If you can't do that how can you expect to take a project from start to finish? Wonder why your bosses projects never seem to get completed? Hmmmmm.
Jul 28, 13 3:02 pm
The other thing is that i have friends from other parts of the world who i graduated with that are already designing and building in their respective countries. I have gotten invitations from them to collaborate on certain projects, so i keep thinking to myself how about moving to chile or brazil collaborate with them under my new office name and who knows what that may bring... Either i stay put and follow the process ( work 9-5 / steady paycheck while i complete IDP for the next 3 years ) or go out there and get my own
Jul 28, 13 3:06 pm
Projects usually stall because of $$$ ( its much more difficult to get construction loans ) so we had 2 projects just sitting there collecting dust, one owner sold the property already and the other seems to be changing his mind on his development and wants to wait on the market...IDP is simple paperwork i agree but if there is no progress on a project there is no development to fill on IDP so there hasnt been any development in IDP since 2 years and i have been paying IDP fees for 5 years
Jul 28, 13 3:13 pm
Case in point i want to say: " screw idp and the license and move elsewhere," where the designer is actually the builder... Im not married to staying in the States and be employed, i see local firms who havent built here in the beautiful US of A but have commissions in china and in the developing countries all due to the internet... Why cant we do that?
Jul 28, 13 3:21 pm

The more you describe about your inability to complete IDP the more I sincerely think you will have a rude awakening trying to support yourself by self-employment.  

IDP is an enormous pain in the ass, we all know that.  However, even in a down economy, all it really needs is some dedicated hard work and some personal initiative to complete.  If you are seriously having that much trouble completing it, you will not have what it takes to go out, make contacts, get jobs, negotiate contracts, complete projects, and get paid for your work.  Period.  Anyone who tells you differently has not done those things.

Here's how you complete IDP in a down economy: you work all the angles.  You read all the descriptions carefully, you hunt down everything you can do on your own, you get out there and make contacts with contractors and volunteer like crazy.  If you can't get the hours you need from your job you talk to your boss.  If they're not willing to make allowances for you and help you out, you look for another job.  If you can't be bothered to look for another job, then how are you going to be bothered enough to look for clients?!  It is A LOT harder than looking for a job.  On top of that, at least now you have money coming in to support you while you work towards your IDP goal - when you're on your own, you have no money coming in while you're looking for more.  I have encouraged lots of people to go out on their own.  They had initiative and were already out there making contacts and making it happen even before they truly decided to break off on their own.  You seem to completely lack initiative.

Jul 28, 13 7:59 pm
I disagree,
initiative and motivation is what I have most. I am not frustrated at all with my situation, the issue here is I do not believe that my career should begin 3-5 years from now after I get licensed. That does not determine whether i can or cannot design and build somewhere else.
Im not trying to avoid IDP im simply ignoring it"
I can move, design and build elsewhere...
Im looking at a bigger and global picture here and not thinking locally...thats why im motivated to go out there, move somewhere else... start my own thing ...already instead of sitting behind my desk drawing technical stuff until I complete all my requirements... "I want to start building stuff"
My clock is ticking as everybody else is too, and i dont want to be in a position where i wasnt that adventurous in my career and have to regret it later, ive travelled alot and love travelling, that I feel maybe working in the US is not the only option for me
I definitely appreciate your input mantaray but i dont believe that completing those requirements will make me a better architect,

Im looking to free myself from the requirements that are only eating up on my ambitions to grow...

Apparently i feel im the only one who thinks this way...
On the other post theres this guy who wants to die because he cant get a job, why not be an entrepreneur and go out there already and promote your services instead of relying on a job...
Jul 28, 13 8:42 pm

its very hard to run an architectural practice.  its almost impossible to do anything meaningful without a licence. you can move.  i would caution you that finding work is all about contacts and who you know is really about how long you've been in a place, in which case simply moving is not likely going to get you anywhere fast. Unless you are moving into some part of the world where you have lots of rich friends.

your career does not start 3 to 5 years from now. it starts now.  What you are doing now is learning how to be an architect.  How to be a businessman is a big part of the job not exactly covered by IDP.  If you are able to learn the ropes on someone else's dime then you really should.  Manta describes a way to do that.  It takes a serious amount of time and effort but if you can get through it you might find the business side of things a lot easier.  Not a bad idea really.

Either that or just move to large office.  they'll have you sorted in no time.

Jul 28, 13 9:02 pm

i'm trying to figure out, what's new here? we all go through this same thing, and like many have noted; without a license you are not a thing of value. the ones that have gone on to do what you suggest, have many times found a licensed, sole practitioner, latched on to that, and with their incredible design skills, put in the time and effort, and created a severely successful practice. even with that effort, they still had considerable connections and a degree from an esteemed program.

point is, either find a licensed professional, that also wants to do something similar, get with a builder and do some design build thing, or stay, get your license.

Jul 28, 13 9:51 pm

An architectural license is highly overrated.

Jul 28, 13 10:47 pm

For the record, I never said and would never say that getting a license makes you a better architect, per se.  It does, however, in the eyes of the law and more importantly your clients, make you an actual architect.  Unfortunately that is the way of the world.

I don't disagree with your feelings - I felt that way myself once upon a time, and it's a good itch to get you motivated to scratch.  But simply abandoning your current position doesn't seem like it would put you in that much better of a position.  I whole-heartedly agree with Will and was going to say the same thing myself - usually your solo jobs come from places where you've already put in the time to build up a network.  So to speak to your specific question about moving, it's a great idea if you feel confident that you're going to a place where you can tap into a great network quickly, either by already having connections (say, family) or by hooking up with a friend who has already built those connections.  From a purely realistic, practical level, it is not that likely that you will be able to find enough work to support yourself if you are in a brand new place by yourself that you have no contacts in.  

Also, I still feel like if you really were someone with initiative, you would already have started this process and wouldn't be asking about it.  I mean, the folks I know who have been successful in getting solo projects and striking out on their own were already doing it like they live and breathe - it took a lot of work but it was never something they debated or questioned but simply were already out there doing.  By the same token these folks already had their license shit together without even thinking about it.  So if you want to be that person, just get out there and do it.  Don't dream about how you might be able to do it someplace else, someplace grass-is-greener.

Jul 28, 13 11:01 pm
Sounds like you have already made up your mind. Perhaps you will be successful, perhaps not. Check out Chris Pardo in Seattle, he is someone who did it and is still not licensed. Of course, he had to hire an architect to make it work and had the largest building boom in recent history to help him and almost lost it all...
Jul 29, 13 11:01 am

As I understand, Johnathan Segal believes architects who want to go into development should avoid being licensed because there is far too much liability. The idea is to work within the "grey" areas where an engineer can be substituted in to sign off on the drawings. Most projects need engineers anyway, so partner with one throughout the design process. Totally legal. Just a smart way of protecting yourself and still being able to lead/influence the shape, look and feel of your projects. 

Have you talked to you local bank about lending? Designed a model, drawn out plans or built a proforma? If and when you do, shop it out to contractor friends for feedback on cost and scheduling... Talk to your local bank about loans and interest rates and research how to borrow money against your life insurance for construction loans. Get creative, you're an architect after all...And your not the first entrepreneurial one at that. It's been done. Make it happen. 

Jul 29, 13 12:28 pm

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